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Prevention and Treatment for Corns

feet feet feet in a bed sticking out from under the sheets

If you've ever had a small pebble stuck inside your shoe, you know how irritating walking can be until the tiny rock is removed. Having a corn on your foot can feel similar, causing pain with each step you take.

Types of Corns

A corn is a hardened, thick area of skin that is very much like a callus, but smaller and more painful. They are usually caused by pressure and friction against the skin. Over time, this pressure causes some skin cells to die and form a hard surface (corn) as a self-protective measure. There are different types of corns that can affect your feet, and the three most common ones are:

1. Hard corns

2. Soft corns

3. Seed corns

Hard corns are the most common type of corn. They usually develop on the sides of your foot or on the tops of your toes. They have a hard center surrounded by toughened skin.

Hard corns are usually caused by poorly fitting shoes, high heels or shoes that are causing friction by pressing against the toes or sides of the foot. The pressure of shoes that are too tight or that have a tight toe box causes the skin to thicken in order to protect the underlying structure of your foot.

As a hard corn gets thicker, it becomes painful when pressure is applied.

Soft corns are lighter in color than hard corn, and they have a more rubbery texture. They also tend to develop in between the toes and are also the result of ill-fitting shoes.

A seed corn is basically a very small cluster of corns that forms on the bottom of the foot, usually on the balls of the feet. A seed corn can be extremely tender. It's not clear why, exactly, seed corns develop, but they often form when the skin is dry.

Wearing shoes or sandals without socks can lead to problems like seed corns. Also, tight shoes that place too much pressure on some areas of the foot and even loose-fitting shoes that cause chafing can cause seed corns to crop up.

Ways to Prevent Corns From Developing:

1. Be sure the shoes you wear fit properly. It's a good idea to go to a reputable shoe store and have the salesperson there professionally measure each of your feet. You may find that you need a wider shoe size or a half size larger than what you usually buy.

Stay away from shoes that are too tight and have a narrow toe bed. Also avoid high heels and other shoes that force your toes in a pressure situation.

2. Wear socks that fit properly. Often, wearing cushioned socks made of a nylon blend will keep your feet protected.

3. Keep your toenails trimmed to prevent them from pushing up against your shoe, which can create pressure against the skin of your toes.

4. Use corn pads in vulnerable areas of your foot where you may have had corns develop previously. Corn pads are donut-shaped to protect and redistribute pressure around the skin where a corn is or may develop.

5. Wash your feet on a daily basis with soap and water. Scrub with a scrub brush and finish up with a pumice stone to keep feet smooth and clean.

6. Moisturize your feet with a foot cream nightly before going to bed. Use a cream that has salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, lanolin or urea as an ingredient.

(Note: Avoid using creams with salicylic acid, a keratolytic, if you are allergic to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) or if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, poor blood circulation or skin infections and irritations.)

The moisturizer helps prevent friction from dryness.

7. Purchase shoe insoles sold over the counter to help cushion your feet. A podiatrist may recommend a custom insole or orthotic to provide more support for your feet and reduce pressure.

Home Remedies for Foot Corns

If you've already developed a painful corn on your foot, here are some home remedies to help get rid of it. If these measures don't work, and you are in pain, please see your podiatrist.

1. Soak your foot in warm water for 10 minutes to soften the skin.

2. Use a pumice stone to slough off dead, dry skin. Dip the pumice stone in warm water. Using gentle circular or side-to-side motions, file the corn.

3. Rub moisturizing lotion or cream into the area.

4. Use corn pads to keep pressure off the corn. There are some corn pads available that are premedicated with a salicylic acid solution that may help soften and wear away the corn.

5. Do not attempt to shave the corns away by yourself. This can create a much worse problem of infection that can become dangerous.

Corns can be painful, but they are not a cancerous or dangerous condition, with surgery rarely being necessary. When your corn has been successfully resolved, remember that it may return if properly fitted shoes continue to be worn.


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